[OH Updates] diluting your list of Open source products

Andrew Stone g.andrew.stone at gmail.com
Wed Sep 21 07:14:08 PDT 2011

Here in Boston we have an Arduino user's group;  it hasn't been entirely
successful.  Generally 15-20 people say they are coming and then less then
half show up (mostly noobies) and just sort of chat about nothing much and
leave.  Nobody even brings a Arduino.  A few weeks ago I offered to run a
surface mount workshop (
with a 16,24,28,32 QFN BOB (literally; the pins go straight to DIP-style
headers for breadboarding) that I had made but never gotten around to
putting up for sale on my site.  We mounted a PCA9555 io-expander and
connected it to an Arduino via a breadboard.  It was raining on the day of
the workshop and the user's group organizer told me that that is not a good
thing; it makes even fewer people actually show.

But I had 28 signups, 25 attendees and 2 of the no-shows sent me specific
apology emails afterwards with legit reasons!  All 25 attendees left with a
working PCA9555 io-expander mounted by themselves.

A week later I used the same board to test a LED driver chip.

So I think I will put the BOB up for sale on my site.  BOBs may be simple,
but are d*mn useful AND most importantly they let people get their toes wet
without having to actually make serious time and less-serious $
Sure, releasing the plans for an all optical computer made from chiseled
ruby will give you great bragging rights.  But very few users. :-)


On Tue, Sep 20, 2011 at 8:30 PM, Bruce Perens <bruce at perens.com> wrote:

> On 09/20/2011 03:47 PM, David Carrier wrote:
>> These are all open-source hardware.  Even though the breakout boards don't
>> really act as a significant resource to the community by being open-source,
>> it would be stupid not to release them as an open-source product just
>> because they are not novel.  The biggest downside is that they do dilute our
>> list of open source products, even though they are not a a major chunk of
>> our design time or our revenue.  We mostly build them because customers want
>> them and they make our other products (processors and development boards)
>> much more useful.
> Parallax makes real stuff, both proprietary and Open Source, so this is not
> Parallax's problem. But I think this problem of diluting your own list of
> Open Source products is a symptom of the broader problem. In a sense the
> "global" list of Open Hardware products is diluted by all of those breakout
> boards, both yours and those of others. And then the folks who just make
> breakout boards are taken as seriously as folks like Parallax.
> I have probably already said enough to raise people's sensitivity to the
> issue. Perhaps this will drive some of the breakout board folks to be more
> ambitious.
>    Thanks
>    Bruce
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